Once again, here are the 2021 ACC standings.
And here are the APR standings with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded (and the Wake Forest/North Carolina game also excluded).
Finally, ACC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
I use a game and a half as a line of demarcation to determine whether or not a team significantly over or under-performed relative to their APR and by that standard, Louisville was the only ACC team that saw their record differ significantly from their APR. The Cardinals also undershot their record based on their YPP numbers and we went over a few reasons for that last week.
Winning Seasons in Divisional Play
While I was overjoyed with Wake Forest winning their division and playing in the ACC Championship Game, i felt kind of sorry for NC State. The Wolfpack and Demon Deacons played a tight game in Winston-Salem, and for the seventeenth time in the last twenty meetings in this series, the home team won. Had the Wolfpack pulled the game out, they would have played in their first ACC Championship Game. Off the top of my head, I remembered a few other instances where the Wolfpack finished as the division runner-up. In 2017, the Wolfpack finished a game behind Clemson in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. They were unbeaten in ACC play when Clemson visited Carter-Finley stadium in early November. NC State led the Tigers at half, but lost 38-31. Had they held on to win, they would have represented the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship Game. In 2010, NC State entered their regular season finale at Maryland needing a victory to tie Florida State at the top of the division and qualify for the ACC Championship Game by virtue of their head-to-head win against the Seminoles. Behind Russell Wilson, the Wolfpack jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but Maryland scored 38 of the next 41 points and withstood an NC State rally to win... wait for it...38-31. With those two instances seven years apart sticking out in my brain, I figured NC State would have by far the most second place division finishes in the ACC. Then I went and looked at the data. Aside from 2010, 2017, and 2021, NC State has finished with a winning conference record one other time since the ACC adopted divisions in 2005! The Wolfpack finished with a winning conference record in 2020, but since there were no divisions that season, I am not including it. With the NC State heartbreak angle not playing out as I had hoped, I decided to look at how often each team produced a winning ACC record since divisional play began in 2005. Excluding 2020, there have been seventeen seasons of divisional play in the ACC. Care to guess which team has finished with a winning conference record most often?
No real shock at the top of the standings. Clemson has not finished with a non-winning conference record since 2010, which was Dabo's second full season in charge. Other interesting statistical discoveries I made while conducting this research include:
- Boston College had a run of five consecutive winning conference seasons from 2005-2009 under three different head coaches, but has not had a winning conference record since
- Virginia has had three head coaches since 2005 and all three have posted exactly one winning conference season in that span
- Despite competing with Butch Davis and Mack Brown, Larry Fedora is the only North Carolina coach to post a winning conference record and he did it three times
- Since joining the ACC in 2013 and 2014 respectively, Pittsburgh and Louisville are in a five-way tie for second place with Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech for most seasons with a winning conference record (4) behind Clemson
Thanks for reading. Check back next week when we examine the Big 10.